Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Recall the Recounters

CNET takes a good luck at the controversy surrounding electronic voting ("E-voting: Nightmare or nirvana?") by lining up a panel of four experts, pro and con, security experts and civil rights proponents one of each on the "pro" side and one of each on the "con" side. And the "con" security guy really does try a "con job." David Dill, a computer science professor at Stanford University and founder of, a group that advocates mandatory paper-based audit systems for electronic ballots, has a bee in his bonnet about re-counts, of all things. But, as most unbiased experts in computer tabulation will tell you, there's no need for a recount with a computer-based election! Well, depending on how the votes from multiple machines are counted (manually?) or how there data is entered into an accumulator (by hand?) there may be a need to re-do the math. But neither of those scenarios require a paper trail!

As Carnegie-Mellon University professor Michael Shamos rightly points out: " absolutely every other walk of life where we use machines, we verify them by testing and inspecting them. If it were really true that computer systems couldn't be tested, we would be fools to rely on them for electronic banking, lotteries, medical imaging, launching nuclear weapons, etc."

The recount issue is a sham issue and the proper government authorities should investigate to see why this red herring is constantly dragged across our path to easier, more efficient, user-friendly, more accurate elections.

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